My Journey Part 2 – The Temple of Light & How I Turned Vegetarian

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It took me one and a half hours to get ready each day because of how severe my acne was…

“I’m not feeling like it today Jeffrey…” I texted Jeffrey (with my blackberry) from the intern’s desk at STYLE magazine where I was interning.

“Trust me, it’s a very calming place… Very peaceful… You will like it. I hope you will.” He replied.

“Okay then… where do I meet you?”

“Meet me after work at Little India Station.”


I remember what I wore that day – I was at my skinniest. Black and white striped crew neck long sleeves with black skinny jeans and red pumps. Jeffrey was waiting for me at the exit of Buffalo road market in his work clothes. He greeted me with enthusiasm, and soon after led me down Race Coarse road towards all the Indian restaurants, passing the only restaurant on the road I’ve been to called Banana Leaf Apollo.

He asked me how I was coping with the break up, so I told him the entire detailed story about how horrendously it all went down two nights ago – involving things being thrown out of the apartment, me jumping from balcony to balcony of the tenth floor because he wouldn’t give me my wallet (I could’ve died jumping like that), breaking into his living room balcony with him watching me with a smirk on his face, me juggling all of my belongings down the road in my pirate halloween costume… onto a cab at 4AM in the morning…


Me as a pirate that night lol

By the time I finished my story, Jeffrey told me we had already passed the place but he didn’t want to interrupt my story. We walked back down from Muthu’s Curry restaurant towards Buffalo Road, turning left at a dark, narrow entrance, up a dark set of stairs.

“Jeffrey, this is dodgy…” I quivered like a snobby princess…

“Don’t worry, once you see the place you will love it. Come.” Jeffrey has always been a very firm guy. One quality I admire about him.

We reached the top of the steps and there it was, a baby pink door, painted golden lotuses, thick apple-green borders, and a golden bronze door knob. Jeffrey knocked a few times.

“The guy who’s here is a disciple of the Guru… I think for two decades now. He used to be the head chef at Raffles Hotel. Guruji is still in America.”

A petite, cheerful Indian man greeted us at the door in a bright, oversized bubble gum pink T-shirt.

“Welcome!” He said with a big warm smile on his face. “Here! Have a seat. We reserve the couches for the angels. You can sit on the carpet!”

The place was painted in rainbow colors. Rainbow curtains, lotus pink walls, and crystals and pearls embedded all over every single wall. There was an extraordinary atmosphere to the place – so bright.. so much… light… like heaven in a pink submarine…

He led us to a small living room with three couches – one against each of the walls. One wall with teal georgette curtains and a big golden Star of David in the center.

What is this place!? I quietly sat in curiosity and confusion.

I didn’t understand it in any manner whatsoever, but the sensation I was experiencing was almost numbing. It’s hard for me to describe it, even now… I never felt so much brightness in my life. Truly truly indescribable… It was filled with so much… love….

A distressed caucasian man was sitting in the corner with a peace of paper in his hands, brooding intensely at it with stress. He wore frameless glasses with red rubber temples – TAG Heuer.. I recognized its distinct design. He ignored me as I observed him. Our Indian chef disappeared for a while into the corridor on the left as I sat quietly with Jeffrey with our back against one of the couches.

The Indian man finally joins us once again. The five or ten minute wait felt like forever in this strange place.

“So! What is your story Tida?”

I looked at him, and couldn’t hold in my emotions any longer. I had no idea I was holding it in. WHY IS IT COMING OUT NOW?! I screamed loudly in my own head.

I broke down into tears, intense tears, gushing down my made-up face. My purple eyeshadow and thick mascara were no longer intact.

“I am doing so much! I am trying to finish school. I am interning. I am working. And I can’t handle my life anymore. What am I doing wrong? My relationship is so violently dysfunctional. Why am I not doing anything right?” I whimpered like a waterfall of despair. So much that I didn’t know where I’d kept it all this time. All this time I’d been pretending to have it all together, ignoring all the things that just didn’t seem right at all, and lying to myself that whatever I am doing can and will  lead me to happiness.

To be honest, I don’t even remember what I said to the chef. I just remember weeping my eyes out and telling a man I hardly knew about all that I could think of that’s happened in my life.

“What is going on?” I cried..

The light energies of the space was pushing out every damn sack of pain I’d been carrying in my body. My weeping intensified further with sobs and soft hiccups…

Another younger, Indian boy with an American accent had arrived halfway through my venting but too engrossed in my pain was I to pay attention to him…

“Wow. She talks as if she is 200 years old.” said the boy. He looked about my age then (I was 22). I noticed his beautiful light hazel eyes – sparkling with golden brown and green – rather unusual for an Indian person. He was glowing too I noticed.


The younger Indian boy, Rohan turned out to be much older than me – 8 years to be exact. He was also the Executive Director at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (he’s Canadian). Rohan is now one of my very good friends.

“Yes, she is an old soul.” replied the chef who suddenly seemed like the Fairy God Mother in Cinderella, comforting poor Cinderella when her dream dress was torn by the evil stepmother (AKA life). He was kind, wise, and exude the type of compassion I’d never seen or felt before in anybody.

“You see, Guruji always tells us that all relationships are karmic…” he continued, “meaning, everybody you meet in this life, you’ve met in your previous lives. You have debts with them you have to clear. The more intense you feel for someone when you first meet them – especially those love-at-first-sight’s, the more intense your past lives were with that person, and the more issues you will have to overcome with that person.” He said.

“Makes sense…” I replied with a soft hiccup I made an attempt to suppress.

A year before that when I was still living in Bangkok, I told my mother how often I got hurt in my own bedroom and how odd it was. I was always walking into sharp corners and edges, always bleeding, always scratching myself with something, as if somebody was actually pushing me into those hazardous corners. Some weird energy resided in my room and I felt it.

She had a friend who studied astrology and knew a master from Taiwan who started seeing things and hearing ‘messages’ when he turned 40, was put in an asylum, only to realize later that he could help people with his newfound abilities (I’m not sure how true this is). I remember him wearing long red robes…  But long story short, the master came and ‘blessed’ my room with his chants (in LATIN! He was Taiwanese!) and said some ‘snake’ energy resided in my room and loved the energies of young girls. (I was born on the Snake Chinese zodiac year as well…) He said my room was clear of the snake energy now. (Again, not sure how true this is!)

Later on, through my mother’s shrink-gypsy friend, I met her son and his friends who were all the master’s disciples and really spiritual. One of them claimed he had an ‘affinity’ with me because of our ‘past lives’, that we were together in my lives, and gave me a book called “Many Lives, Many Masters”. Although I was raised a Catholic, I believed in karma and the cycle of birth and death because of Thailand being a Buddhist country. But was I a hundred percent clear on this philosophy – I wasn’t. The lines of catholicism – heaven and hell – made these philosophies unclear to me. I didn’t really understand what the truth of these things were.

Many Lives, Many Masters is a story written by a psychiatrist who had to treat a patient with multiple phobias. Until he used hypnotism, he couldn’t help the girl. Under hypnotism, the girl would talk about a life she was never aware of consciously, going back in time to different eras and periods, stone age in the north, 12th and 16th centuries in Europe, Africa, and Asia… narrating how she would die – drowning in water, burnt alive, etc. and through these things, she developed acute fears in her subconscious that really limited her from living life like a normal human being – she was scared of everything.

Each time she died, she would see a different master, like a guardian angel who would guide her through her after life into her new life, showing her all that she has done in her life and the lessons she had to go through and overcome (I don’t really remember much of this part, but this isn’t important). The psychiatrist assisted her to let go of each fear, and throughout time she was able to let go of each scar she stored in her subconscious.

Through this book, when chef mentioned past lives – I understood him. It became even clearer to me how real and vicious the cycle of birth and death is, the cycle of our lives’ obstacles… And how we come back each time to overcome these fears… I finally understood the fundamentals of Buddhism… Good deeds, bad deeds, detachment, and acceptance…

In one night, I understood relationships like I never did before – karma. All good and bad deeds, debts and unfinished businesses we are clearing with our selves and others. Lust, infatuations, and how we look for others to fill the many holes in our being, not realizing they have just as many holes for us to fill as well. The concept of soul mates – untrue – just karmic debts. You can only give what you have. And if you don’t have enough love for yourself, how can you have enough love for your partner in a relationship?

I came to understand religions too.. I never really understood Jesus or anything at church really, or Buddha, or meditation – why do we have so many religions and methods? Are they even real? Or just myths? Who came up with them? To which I only came to know that mankind go through periods of distresses that desperately need saviors and true guidance from the light, from the cosmic, from the person or energy we call God. Krishna, Jesus, Muhammad, Guru Nanak – are simply light beings sent to give us love, compassion, wisdom, and guidance… It was only the people in greed that formed religions so they could control other people. Jesus didn’t create Christianity.. He didn’t make us all sinners. He only came to love. The bible was written hundreds of years after Jesus gave away His life as a saving energy to eradicate barbarianism at that time. The Pagans, greedy for power and jealous of the movement of Christianity, rigged the Bible with so many glitches, making Christians worship a symbol of pain – the cross, and feel forever guilty to be sinners – never free from this guilt-filled life. If Jesus was truly our beloved, would we put the symbol of his death in our place of worship? In our homes? We have forgotten how to use our heart to love and started following traditions blindly. How can you love Him, love yourself, or have any type of compassion if you are constantly condemned to be reminded that you are guilty and that He is in pain FOR YOU? That is guilt-tripping. Can true love have guilt? He gave His life for us, and for that we shall forever be grateful for – the amount of love he showered on this dimension, but the symbol of his bloodshed should be taken off all churches. We should worship love and compassion as He is, not the pain and suffering that He went through…

It still brings great sadness to my heart each time I see crosses and Jesus on it. For the first time in my life, I felt love for Him. I felt anger for him. And for the first time in my life, I actually felt him. I’ve never heard, felt, or understood Jesus before through my life as a catholic. I’ve never experienced such love before in my life, the type that this place of light opened up within me…

The light ashram I stepped foot into was filled with so much love that over night, my life transformed. In just a few hours spent there, I was able to understand so much about myself and let go of so much that I was holding onto – something quite impossible for my hyperemotional nature.

“But Tida,” continued chef, “if you want to get better, you have to turn vegetarian.”

“What?! What does that have to do with anything? Why?” I tried my best to suppress my upset. This doesn’t make sense. You mean I have to give up my favorite duck rice at the MediaCorp food court? (Where I interned).

“Yes. You see..” He reached his hands over – grabbed my neck from behind with one, and flexed the fingers of the other like a cobra about to attack, and hit me right in the throat violently as I retracted in horror…..

Until my next post…

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